Continue Preschool or Stay Home with Mommy?

Updated on May 16, 2011
J.S. asks from Saint Louis, MO
30 answers

Hi mamas!
I only have a week and a half left of my maternity leave, then I will have to take my sweet baby boy to daycare. My husband and I are contemplating keeping me home with our newborn and my other son who is almost 4. He's been in daycare/preschool since he was 3 months of age. I've never had the luxury of being able to stay home with him. He is currently in a great preschool and loves it. He actually has gone most days that I've been home these past 3 months because when asked, he WANTS to go rather than stay home with his brother and me.
If I become a stay at home mom, we will have to keep my oldest son home for his final year of preschool. He is extremely smart so I do not think it will put him behind the other kids once he starts kindergarten. I will get him around other children as much as I can while I'm home with them, but I feel bad keeping him from going to preschool when he loves it so much.
My question is this: is it better for both children to be a stay at home mom and keep them home with me every day? OR is it better to continue working and have my oldest son continue going to preschool and my newborn go in to daycare? My husband and I have discussed this relentlessly and there are so many pros and cons of doing both that I just need to hear from some other mamas. Thanks ladies!!

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So What Happened?

Thanks ladies! I appreciate all the feedback and advice. I checked today and there is a partial day/3 days a week program at our local YMCA that is affordable. There is also story hour at our library every Tuesday. If we decide for me to stay home, I am glad to know I have options for my oldest son. Thanks again!

Featured Answers


answers from Washington DC on

I sent my boy to preschool part time. He's now 11 and his brother is ALMOST nine (he reminds me of this)....

You need to decide if you can afford it, then keep him in preschool part time. The fact that he WANTS to go speaks volumes of the school!!!

being a SAHM doesn't mean you are shackled to the house. They NEED to get out and socialize. If he's a smart boy - then he NEEDS the social skills and knowledge he is getting from the school.....

Like I said when my boys were that age - they went to preschool 3x a week. It was good for me - i was able to get stuff done around the house and GREAT for them - they got to play with their friends and learn at the same time!!


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Stay at home , and find a preschool 2 or 3 days a week,they also have programs for financial help....
Don't feel guilty for the oldest one, he's going to be just fine.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

There are only 2 reasons to work: you want to or you have to. If you don't want or have to put a newborn in daycare, then don't! Some moms aren't "SAHM material", but I would give it a try. My vote would be to stay home with both kiddos.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Johnstown on

None of my girls ever went to preschool. Stay at home with your babies as long as you can. Why let someone else raise them for you if you don't have to? I missed out on the entire first year of our older's life and it really depresses me when I think about how much I missed with her. You don't get these years back.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

100% better to stay at home with both kids. Your son will be much better off with you if it is between the two-and it goes without saying that your baby will too. Can you switch to a cheaper preschool? The church and community center schools are probably going to be a better price than a daycare preschool I would think. And maybe only send him 2 days a week? Bottom line is that children need their parents more than they need 'socialization'. You can always have his preschool friends over for playdates also.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

preschools (at least good ones, and it sounds as if yours is) are fun but NOT necessary. i don't see any point in going to work so you can pay for preschool when you can enrich his life just as much with home, playgroups and family adventures.
if you enjoy work and want to go continue a career that's a different matter, but if you are considering keeping your little one in preschool because you think it's better for him than being with you, think again.
an engaged interesting dynamic family beats an institution hands down every time.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

It is always best for children to be at home with their mother if at all possible. Until our current generation, it was unusual for children to be in daycare, especially at such a young age. If you have any way possible, I highly recommend that you keep your precious children at home with you. Whatever a school can offer, it pales in comparison to what a child's loving mother can offer. I don't mean to hurt of offend anyone who finds themselves with no choice in the matter, but for those who are able, invest this time in your littles. It pays back hugely the rest of their lives.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Janesville-Beloit on

My vote is stay at home with both of them if you can swing it. I remember when my maternity leave was drawing to an end at 3 months, and I just felt absolutely sick about having to leave my baby (I ended up going back, giving my notice, working 2 weeks, and now I'm a SAHM). You will get that precious time with your new baby, and there is no reason why you can't do just about everything with your older son that they do at preschool (socialization, arts/crafts, field trips, counting/reading, etc). Take him to the library, the park, the zoo, get together with friends who have young children, join a play group, etc. I don't think you'll ever look back and regret it one bit! Plus, you've only got your older "baby" for one more year and then he's off to school, and then you might be wishing you would have taken full advantage of this time with him. Best wishes!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

This is really an issue that you and your husband have to work out, and what's "best" is whatever works best for you. We chose for me to stay home with my children and have not regretted a moment of it. I have a friend who stayed home and was miserable, and for financial reasons had to return to work and loved it, and was such a happier mommy because of it. Another friend works 2 weekends a month, and that's what works for her family. Just like most things involved in raising children, there's no "right" answer.

I will say that, even though I stay home, I chose to enroll my 3-year old in preschool (This is not the same as daycare; he is being taught by a certified teacher with a kindergarten-readiness curriculum). He attended 2 days a week for 3 hours, and next year (4-year old class) he will attend 3 days a week for 3 hours. This has been wonderful for all of us: he gets to be in a school setting with other kids, I get to have one-on-one time with my younger son.

Also, if you choose to stay home, I would recommend getting involved in a moms group of some sort. One place to start is Moms Club International. They have chapters all across the country and offer all kinds of playgroups and activities and opportunities to meet kids (and other mommies!).

Best of luck to you in this difficult decision! And, if things don't work out, you can always re-evaluate and come up with a new plan.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Youngstown on

I think staying home is wonderful. Think of all the fun you could have with your older son (&baby) before he heads off to school. You need to look into a preschool program that he could attend 2 or 3 days a week for the fall. You can do preschool things at home if you want. I think it may be an adjustment for him at first but he will enjoy being home with you. Trips to the park, library story time and even shopping with mom are fun things to do. I know I enjoy taking my kids to the mall play area just to run around when the weather is not the best.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

I always push for parents to be home with their kids if possible. If you can stay home with both, maybe start doing some babysitting for friends a few days a week. Maybe another working M. from the preschool will need her child to be somewhere for the summer and then partial days after school starts in the fall. Your son would have a buddy, possibly someone he already knows, and you could earn some cash. I think some moms find it a little easier to have 2 kids keeping eachother occupied than being home alone with just 1. Youd find the time for the new baby this way and your older will be happy. Throw in some academic stuff and keep the 4 yr olds up to speed and ready for K in a year.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

Maybe you could find a preschool that he can attend just a couple of days a week to socialize with other kids. Sometimes their are programs through your park and rec department. That is what we did with both our kids so that I could stay home. The cost was not as expensive as a regular "Preschool". I stayed home after my second was born too. I love every minute of it!!!!

Best of Luck

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

My daughter went to preschool once i had my 2nd child.
She LOVED it and WANTED to go.
Then, I had some time at home, just with my 2nd baby.
It is GOOD.
My eldest got to do 'her' things and got out of the house, and I got to have time with just my 2nd child and his routines.
It was GOOD.

Why does your Eldest, have to be home, if you stay home????
He should continue with Preschool, since he loves it and it is a positive thing for him.....

It is good, to have your eldest in Preschool, still, if you can. Either way.

The bottom line is, your eldest, LOVES going to Preschool.

For me, my eldest would have been bummed, if I pulled her out of preschool, and just stayed home with me and her baby brother. Because, she enjoyed Preschool and was thriving there, and it was her OWN time.... her own routine, and her own thing.

And, my son, when he was a baby, napped 3 times a day. Which means, that I was at home during those naps. Then that would mean, my daughter too, would have to be home too, IF she did not go to Preschool. So, when there is an infant, the day sort of 'revolves' around the infant and because, my son would NOT nap, anywhere else, except at home. He was not a portable napper/sleeper. Thus, my daughter going to Preschool... was good for her. She loved it. And meanwhile at home, I was just with my son. Nursing, napping, and me doing those things.
Having just 1 child at home and the other at Preschool, helps Mommy too. :)
My son also had bad Jaundice when he was born, and had to have home treatment. And I had had a c-section. And when he was a newborn, I could not and would not have wanted, to take him out all over the place, publicly, on outings, per my Eldest child's activities. Thus, Preschool for her, was a good thing. She really loved it and it was a fabulous Preschool. She learned so much there. While I was tied down so to speak, with my newborn son.

My daughter went to Preschool part-time for half-days. Then SHE wanted to go, everyday. So then she did. She was so happy! She really thrived going to Preschool.

I was a SAHM. Still am.

Sure there is nothing 'wrong' if you stay home and your eldest too.
But will your son be disappointed if he can no longer go to Preschool? Or just have him go part-time for half-days.. That costs less.
And you can teach him things, at home. ie: home schooling him.
Have play-dates for him too. If you can and with your infant at home.

My youngest, my Son, is 4 and now in Preschool part-time. If I suddenly pulled him out, I KNOW he would be very disappointed. Because, he LOVES LOVES LOVES going to his Preschool. He learns so much and also thrives there and has friends. He asks me constantly if he can go everyday. But we can only afford him going part-time 3-days a week.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

My kids ask on the weekends when they can go back to school. I think if he has been going for so long, he might find it incredibly boring to be home, hard to say. Can you stay home and have him go a couple days a wk? I would try to meet in the middle if possible. But if you have the chance to stay home, I would. I did it for 5yrs and my kids loved it, but now they are in school and dont look back. You can join a moms group to keep yourselves busy a few days a week. Good Lunk with your decision.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

If the choices are for you to stay home and keep both kids home with you (no preschool) or to go back to work and put both kids in daycare so your child can be in preschool, then I say choose to stay home.

Nothing compares to the momma (or papa) staying home with the kids if you can do it. I know not everyone is in a situation where they can, so thank goodness daycare is there for those who need it. But in situations that aren't like that, daycare is not a better environment than being in your arms and with you all day.

And, to me, the real questions comes down to, is it more beneficial to having momma all day or is it more beneficial to having him go to preschool. Hands down it's more important for you to be there (and again, I know this isn't possible for everyone, so this is not meant as any sort of judgment on people who put their kids in daycare. You do what you have to.).

Is there a reason you can't do both? Does the preschool cost too much? If so, can you switch to a less expensive preschool? If not, though, he'll be fine.

Preschool is mostly a social/activity thing that the kids like. Kids who do preschool vs those who don't, don't end up any smarter in the end (just saying this in case you feel like you might be causing your son to be behind due to not being in preschool). I think kids like it because of the social aspect and the activities, which you can join play groups so he can interact with other kids and they have fun activities for him to do. I'm betting he'll like that just as much.

Anyway, hope that helps. I definitely vote for being a SAHM. There are so many benefits! It is a big adjustment, be forewarned it might be hard to adjust to after the first few months;-) But I it's the best job I've ever had.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

If your son really wants to continue preschool, call your public school district and see if there is a free state program that you qualify for financially. Head Start is a PHENOMENAL program! Just because it's known as a program for low income, don't discount it. It was developed for lots of different groups/families, including special needs and military families. Their funding is superb to many private preschools, and their teachers receive incredible learning opportunities/workshops to continually update their own learning. If you qualify, your son could continue going to school 4 mornings a week.
Even if that is not an option, I definitely vote stay home! I worked in day cares (infant and toddler specialization) before I had kids and due to my experiences and what I saw "behind closed doors" I vowed I would never put my kids in daycare.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Would half days be more economically feasible for the household? And as summer is around the corner will he be out for summer or is his preschool still open? Trying to help you find some middle ground...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

I think you know the answer (well at least I hope you do!) - definitely it is 110% better for BOTH children to be home with you. There is no question about this. Even though your child seems happy to go to preschool, I would keep him home and spend that time all together. Many kids do not even bother with preschool, they want that extra time with their families. My vote is to definitely stay home with both your kids for as long as possible....

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Many pre-schools have 1/2 day programs or partial week programs. If he loves it, keep up the routine because he'll be starting kindergarten next year. PLUS, if you do 1/2 day, that gives you some time to do 1on1 with the infant. Great bonding time for you, a little less stressful than juggling 2, and you may have more energy for your big guy when he comes home from preschool. Then maybe you can plan with daddy to have him take the baby so you can do big-boy time a few times a week.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

The perk about daycare , depending on the daycare and their academic plans, it's a place for your child to expand his knowledge and sensory skills in another place than home.

For both? my opinion: not necessarily. Your oldest son is almost 4 and at that age children are much more aware of the people around them and understands that he has friends and they are fun to play with. Daycare is great for him because he continues to socialize and learn to play correctly because it is constantly exercise. Another perk about daycare is that, depending on the daycares academic curriculum, your child is being exposed to academic schooling that you probably wont have as much time to focus on with him being that you have a new born.
as for your newborn... it really depends on what you think is best for your family. but i think that if you have the opportunity to stay home, you should. i think this because at that age to toddler years they are thriving off of being loved and nurtured. At daycare your newborn wont get the attention, that will set a foundation for him, from another person. also keep in mind that even after a year of age a child isn't playing with other kids... the child is still learning how to play with themselves. if you watch a one year old play with other children around he/she will typically glance over but really doesn't play with the other kids. so the whole, "it's good to send your child to daycare for socialization reasons" isn't a valid argument, so never buy into it. however, that argument will apply as children get older...
in the end it's your choice, and that choice is never a bad one if it's in the best interest for your family.
but remember that when they are little, nothing is more important that being with mommy and developing that bond and receiving that nurture that isn't really present in daycare.
when they are older, like your 4 year, they are ready to be independent and make friends and build relationships with other children.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Is your work such that you could do some consulting work at home, either for your employer or for others? If so, would that be enough to be able to enroll your son part-time at preschool? It would be a shame to take him out of a program that he so enjoys. Is there a co-op preschool in your area, where you can volunteer part time in exchange for lower tuition for him?

It's a tough call, but if I had the chance to stay home with my kiddos, I would jump at the chance. Still... the timing is difficult for your older child.



answers from Erie on

I understood you right from the start.

I know you said you've discussed and discussed, so forgive me if these are things you have already thought about.

First if you stay home now what will your long term plan be and will you be able to find a job later when you do want to go back? Is there any way your employeer could work with you to allow some work from home or some part time hours? I doubt that would off set the cost of infant daycare, though.

Is there anyway DH can bring in more money or could you cut out something that might not seem like a luxery but would give you more money. Like Could you trade in your car for one with lower payments? Or could you cut out your cable bill, eating out, cut way back on bdays and christmas etc.?

I think unless DH job is unstable or you need to stay in your current position so as to have a job in your field in the future, I think being a SAHM makes alot of sense.
There are lots and lots of free or low cost community events in my area that would provide lots of structure and socialization for your son, I"m sure if you checked around you might find some near you too.
Mothers of Preschoolers MOPS is a great organization
Meet UP groups through Yahoo can be fun
Story time at teh library or local book stores
some craft stores have kids activities
Lowes has children's woodworking activites
Vaction Bible school and Sunday school programs through churches
Those are all pretty much free.
YMCA memberships i think are income based and would be a FABULOUS investment. My kids took a mommy and me gym class, and art activity time, soccor, Dance and gymnastics, plus there were other programs offered taht we didn't take advantage of, those were all free with our membership, we did pay a bit for swim lessons like $15 per six week session. And be sure to check the ages i'm not sure if they have to be a certain age first like 3 mo or something but all the Y's in my area offer free child care, I personally was a little leary of it with little little ones, but an older child like your 4 yo that can communicate enough I would be ok with sending him. Once you get to know the staff and the regulations taht they have to follow you could make your decision about your newborn. In fact, i would say, you could bring both kids and just stay and hang out. watch the staff see how they handle things, ask about peak hours and when it might be less crowded etc You'll get a feel if there are any agressive kids that are regulars that you might want to avoid etc.
Sorry if that was too detailed, just wanted to make you aware of all the Y has to offer.

back to your main question, I really don't think you could hurt your oldest at all by staying home with him, but i would worry about the baby being with someone else.



answers from St. Louis on

My oldest was full-time in daycare from 8 months old, and then when I dropped from full-time to part time work, we switched her to 2 days a week. She did fine with that transition. Then after baby #2 came, we were going to pull her out totally, but I needed the extra days with just the baby. We ended up going another 6 months at 2 days a week just to help me run errands, clean, and get baby-time.

We finally stopped taking her totally in January, and she has done fine since. She didn't seem to miss it at all actually. I made sure to do "school" things with her at home - we had a special school time during the baby's morning nap. We'd go over letters, sing songs, play a game, read books, etc. On Fridays, I organized a "pre-school morning" at our house and invited other stay-at-home moms with 2-3 year olds to come over. I'd plan a little themed lesson, and then we'd sing some songs, do a craft, and have a snack. The other kids had never been in pre-school, so the mommas liked the structure and socialization, and it helped transition our daughter.

We also sometimes go to an open-gym at the gymnastics place near us. They have it twice a week for $5/2 hours. She can run and play with other kids, and they have some structure playing with a parachute and singing songs. We also are in a MOPS group where she gets a little craft and play time with other kids every other Monday, and we were in Bible Study Fellowship once a week too (where she got 2 hours of story, songs, play, snack, etc.). It was an easy transition for us since I made a conscious effort to keep her busy and socialized in activities similar to school. I'm not sure how this summer will go since we won't have BSF or MOPS, but we'll get lots of outside play time and maybe some swimming too.

I'd personally choose to stay at home for the baby's sake - the oldest will be more likely to transition to being at home better than the baby would to being away from mom. Plus, the two kids will become closer if they're spending more time together. :)



answers from St. Louis on

Stay home if you can for at least 3 years. Your older son could go a couple of days a week to a mother's day out type of program-just to give you a break. Babies should not be in daycare because they are often so sick.
My granddaughter was never sick until at 6 months she started daycare 3 days per week. She has been sick since last Aug, has been on so many rounds of antibiotics that I could not even count, had surgery for tubes and andenoids. All that for the priviledge of paying thousands of dollars to the daycare provider. Is it really worth it? Stay home!!!!



answers from Scranton on

Hi J.,
I stayed home with my daughter for 10 monthes it was great. I did though have to go back to work. Most preschools are only 2-3 days a week. why not try part-time work, let your older son finish preschool,and then when he's in kindergarten stay at home and be there for his big first day of big kid school. I think he will enjoy having you help him with his school projects and not working then. Your young son will probably not remember daycare and not care. Good Luck.



answers from Detroit on

Just my 2 cents, but I don't really understand the argument that having your kids in preschool is the same as "allowing them to be raised by strangers". Preschool is NOT the same as day care and many parents don't have a choice when it comes to day care or not! In the school district where I live, the 3 year old preschool is just 2 days a week, at 2.5 hours a day. For 4 year olds, they offer either 3 days or 4 days a week, at 3 hours per day. So at the most, your 4 year old is away from you 12 hours a week. My daughter has been in 3 year old preschool this past year and has LOVED IT. As much as I interact with her at home, and she has plenty of activities and play dates with other kids, it's like it's not enough for her. She gets so BORED at home with just Mommy. She gets so excited when it is a preschool day and so bummed when it isn't! And it is only 5 hours a week - the rest of the time she is home with either me or hubby! If you can stay home with the both of them, I would, but you can still do preschool 3 days a week for your 4 year old so he can still be ready for kindergarten when the time comes. Look into the costs of preschool for your 4 year old. Where I am, the 3 year old preschool was $680 for the year - that's only $68 a month. For 4 year olds going 3 days a week, it's around $1200 a year, and for 4 days a week it's about $1500. Like others have mentioned, Head Start is an option too if you qualify financially.



answers from Joplin on

Im a sub and getting your child in school is the best. not for any other reasons than how to get used to being in a school setting. Too many kids now days are babied and that makes it hard for teachers. I see it everyday. I worked with my first two and they are great kids. my third is great too, but I was stay at home with her and she is completely different. I wished I would have worked with her too. Getting your kids used to being with others is beneficial.



answers from Phoenix on

What about a part time Pre-K program? One that is 3 or 4 mornings a week, 3 or 4 hours a day. That way, he gets his learning/social time, you still get to be a SAHM & have time alone with the baby, and everyone wins.

Are you going to be able to give him the same level of social interaction & learning that he was getting before? 4 is an age where kids are ripe for learning & absorb so much. I don't necessarily think it's fair to your almost 4 year old. Not only is he not the only child anymore, you are now considering taking him away from something that he loves.

I think if you can, try to find a way to keep in Pre-K and be a SAHM, or even work part time to offset the costs, it would be most beneficial for everyone.

It sounds like you would be stretching your family financially to be a SAHM. If you haven't been one before, just realize that you may not be cut out for it or enjoy it, especially if you are living paycheck to paycheck (which I gather is your case, since you can't afford to pay for preschool at all). Staying home is not ALWAYS best for the kids, especially if mom is miserable & unhappy.



answers from Detroit on

when you are not workign you may qualify for free preschool. in michigan there is "world of 4s" free for 4 year olds that will go to kindergarden the following year. Must meet the income limit or have special needs. Headstart is aslso free.

Also there are lots of preschools in my area that are cheap.. $160 per month for 2 1/2 days per week. I would hope htat you can afford that for your son. There is a school district by me that has 3 hour preschool for $12 per day.

It is absolutely the best thing you can do for the baby is to stay home. it will keep the baby away from all of those germs.. babies do not need all those other kids and germs for the first 2 years.

for your older son.. he needs some of the socialization of the other kids.

I quit my job when I had the second child.. but we were out and about every day.. we went to playgroups, libary story times, kindermusik, gymnastics clas.. we were very busy. But my kids are only 18 months apart so I found things that we could all do..
I highly recommnd part time work.. good mix for everyone.. I work 2 or 3 days per week.. it is good for my kids and good for me.



answers from Detroit on

Try a free preschool program in the public school for your area. And stay home with your children, if that is what you want. You can do both. A four year old whose been in preschool already probably would benefit from continuing to go to a preschool class, even if for only two -three days as apposed to everyday. He will be in school in a year and stopping now could be confusing, when he has to go back in a year. Good luck with whatever you choose, this is only my opinion. Hope it helps.

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